AM I A MURDERER? by Calel Perechodnik


Email this review


The story of a Polish Jew who faced moral as well as emotional anguish in the Holocaust, told in his own tortured words. At the start of WW II Perechodnik was a young agronomist who wished to immigrate to Palestine to start a new life with his wife and daughter. But he waited too long, and the the Perechodniks, along with all the Jews of Otwock, were confined to a ghetto. Perechodnik was strong and bright, a perfect candidate for the ghetto police force. The police were responsible for keeping order for the Germans--which included rounding up Jews during aktions. Perechodnik and the other policemen did so to keep themselves and their families safe. At one point, assured by the commandant of the Ghetto Polizei that his family would be protected, Perechodnik brought his own wife, Anka, and two-year-old daughter, Athalie, to the ghetto's main square. But he was betrayed: Anka and Athalie were taken to the Treblinka death camp. Even more tragically, Perechodnik discovered the following day that a Polish woman had agreed to save Athalie by taking her and raising her as a Christian. Filled with self-recrimination, Perechodnik managed to make it to Warsaw, where he hid with his mother and other Jews in the apartment of a Polish woman--for a stiff fee. His father, Aryan in appearance, remained at large to support the family until he was captured, as well. Perechodnik joined the Polish underground, but sick with typhus, killed himself. He was 27 years old. Perechodnik's memoir was kept by Polish friends and eventually found its way to the Yad VaShem museum in Israel. The author wrote furiously and without editing, and the narrative is not at all polished or literary. It does, however, convey with remarkable immediacy one man's wartime anguish and is valuable for what it reveals about human nature during times of extreme duress.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1996
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Westview